Yesterday I was thinking about heat. This season was short on it in May and early June, had plenty in late June, and is slated to have a good heat wave this weekend. When it comes to growing produce, it’s both good and bad. Since there’s such a diversity of crops out there, I sometimes pray for some warmth to push the plants along; other times I curse it. A lot of it relates to the three main growing seasons on a produce farm: early, high, and late. The vegetables of each season have differing needs and react differently to the heat.
Early season crops include early greens, brassicas (the family of cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, broccoli) and lettuce. Too much heat makes these guys temperamental. Lettuce wilts and burns, broccoli kernels get loose, and greens bolt like crazy. One day I see I beautiful row of radishes, and, the next, I see a row of yellow flowers about three feet high—it keeps the bees employed. This heat, of course, has a real impact on what you see in your box. There were two Asian greens, tatsoi and mizuna, which never made the first box. There is also the real possibility that those lettuce heads may not withstand another week (last year’s weather was a lot more supportive…we had 4 weeks of lettuce). This is why I’m putting an excessive THREE heads in the box. They have a better chance of survival in a plastic bag in your refrigerator than out in the field.
High season crops include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn, melons, summer squash, and onions. These guys love heat! I can’t even keep up on trellising the tomatoes because they are growing by leaps and bounds. So, when I’m all on edge working around all those stressed out broccoli plants, I just have to make a short walk to admire all those pretty tomato plants sprouting thousands of yellow flowers. It’s a pretty sight.
Like early season, we have a “compressed” late season. We basically squeeze both in just before and immediately after our most productive season in Minnesota, snow season. Late season crops include winter squash, pumpkins, late brassicas, and root crops. What these guys need more than anything is time and the heat sure helps push them along the way. Late brassicas and root crops like turnips and rutabagas haven’t even been planted yet, so stay tuned.
IN THE BOX:
These runts are the end of the line.
Green Onions aka Scallions
1 pint “Sugar Ann” peas
I neglected to say last week that they are snap peas where the pod is edible. If you shelled, you probably didn’t get a lot a pea.
Many just peel, slice, and eat, but there are recipes where you cook them like stuffed kohlrabi.
3 heads of lettuce:
Everyone gets green oakleaf and red oakleaf plus green butterhead or green leaf
Chinese or Napa Cabbage
This is another one of those vegetables with two names. See recipe below.
STIR FRIED SPICED CABBAGE
Printed from COOKS.COM
1 lb. Chinese cabbage (napa)
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
With a cleaver or sharp knife, trim the top leaves of the cabbage and the root ends. Separate the stalks and wash them under cold running water. Cut each stalk, leaves, and all, into 1 x 1 1/2 inch pieces.
In a small bowl: combine the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper and mix thoroughly. Leave the oil within easy reach.
Heat a 12 inch wok right after washing over high heat. When the last drop of water has been evaporated, pour in the oil, swirl it about in the pan and heat for 30 seconds, then turn the heat down to moderate. Immediately add the cabbage and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Make sure all the cabbage is coated with the oil. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the soy sauce, vinegar mixture. Transfer the cabbage to a platter and let it cool to lukewarm before serving. Or, if you prefer, serve it chilled. 4 servings.